Re-examine our Spiritual Journey. John 3:2

2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

2 οὗτος ἦλθεν πρὸς αὐτὸν νυκτὸς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Ῥαββί, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἐλήλυθας διδάσκαλος· οὐδεὶς γὰρ δύναται ταῦτα τὰ σημεῖα ποιεῖν ἃ σὺ ποιεῖς, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ ὁ θεὸς μετʼ αὐτοῦ.

(οὗτος) hoytos, in Greek, all that is said in the earlier verse is picked up: “this” is the man who did and said what is here told. Therefore, these two points imply that Nicodemus had witnessed the signs and heard some teachings. The impression made on him had been so strong that he risked this visit “at night,νυκτός, the genitive of time within which something takes place. Both this impression and the venturesome visit it produced are part of this man’s attitude toward Jesus, an attitude produced by Jesus himself, in fact, a vital part in the course of his conversion. Caiaphas, other Sanhedrists, kept aloof from Jesus, thrust every favorable impression aside—and were never converted. Their attitude was wholly to themselves, and it was an abnormal, willful resistance, 1:11.

Of course, Nicodemus coming “at night” was due to fear lest he is seen, and thus his standing be compromised. However, this is not cowardice but rather a careful caution, for, although Jesus had made an impression on Nicodemus, the man was not sure about this young Rabbi from Galilee who might turn out a disappointment after all. So he cautiously investigates. The fact that Nicodemus “came to him,” taking the risk involved, shows his seriousness, shows how deeply Jesus had gripped his heart. He did not ignore or wipe out the impression made on him, and he took an undoubtedly decisive step. In the study of conversion, Nicodemus, like the Samaritan woman, will always stand out as an illuminating example.

He addresses Jesus with the respectful title “Rabbi” as Andrew, John, and Nathanael had done in the earlier verse in John 1:38. He does not come as a representative of anyone but only for his own sake. Of what he and others are convinced is, “that from God thou art come as a teacher,” the perfect ἐλήλυθας (didaskolos) with its present implication meaning “hast come” and thus art now here. The phrase “from God” is to be understood in a sense, “commissioned by him and thus sent forth from him.” It does not express the divine nature of Jesus but the conviction that Jesus has assumed his office and work not on his own accord but by God’s direction, like the prophets of old. The statement is true as far as it goes. However, behind this admission lurks the question of whether this man Jesus, who has come from God, may not prove to be the Messiah, which reveals the real purpose of Nicodemus’ coming, the thing he would like to discover.

On what grounds Nicodemus rests the conviction that Jesus is “a teacher come from God” he states, “for no one can do these signs which thou doest except God be with him.” Nicodemus, too, saw “the glory” (John 1:14) in these signs; he states what they indicated to him. Both ποιεῖν and ποιεῖς are durative, “can be doing” and “thou art doing,” and thus include the signs already done and any others Jesus might still do. However, the noteworthy point is that Nicodemus connects these signs with the teaching of Jesus. As Jesus presents these signs, they are his credentials. Nicodemus regards these credentials as proving that this teacher has undoubtedly come from God, for who could do such signs “except God be with him?” μετʼ αὑτοῦ,(meta autos) in covenant or association with him; σύν would mean “with him” to help him. We see just how far Nicodemus has progressed. The signs loom up in his mind; the teaching contents are not mentioned and seem not to have entered far into his mind, although he connects the two. Therefore, this explains the course of Jesus’ instruction: since Nicodemus accepts the signs, Jesus unfolds to him the teaching which these signs accredit and attest. Furthermore, this teaching centres in Jesus’ person in such a way that Nicodemus at once has also the answer to the question that troubles him—he learns who Jesus really is.

As Nicodemus struggles within his own objective reasoning that is influenced by the subjective evidence shown in Jesus’s action, he struggles to focus his objectivity as to who Jesus was. He knew but was still unsure and assumed a position of neutrality when he approached Jesus. His goal was to find out the reality and truth of what he had seen and heard. He was struggling with what he already knew against a backdrop of tainted temple bureaucracies that could not remove its blinds to the revealed truths that are the foundations of their own scripture revealed by the prophets of the Old Testament.

His objectivity was tainted by subjective influences, which blinded the truth unfolding before him. As religious as he was, he was entirely unsure of who Jesus was. Today, Christians continue to fall into this same trap, and we allow our views to be tainted by subjective influences that taint the truths revealed in scripture—an unfortunate, ongoing folly of our human nature. We assume what is right based on our best-case scenario that fits our narrative, and anything that does not is cast aside. Quietly we continue our so-called ‘faithful’ existence until obstacles appear in our lives and we wonder why.

Maybe we need to check our objective framework and find out if we are making the narrative fit us or we are suppose to change to fit the narrative. The choice lies with us and if we face challenges now, consider ourselves blessed; the Lord directs your focus to re-examine your spiritual life. Otherwise, it will be too late.


Categories: christianity, english, Gospel of John

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